Nicolas Cage tried his hand at comic book stardom with 2007’s “Ghost Rider.” The movie was a critical misfire (23% on Rotten Tomatoes) that didn’t set the box office on fire, grossing $115 million in the U.S. against a $110 million budget. The film’s disappointing returns resulted in a five-year delay for the sequel, “Spirit of Vengeance,” which fared even worse. Hollywood’s current superhero boom started a year after “Ghost Rider” with summer 2018 hits “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight,” and Cage argues that “Ghost Rider” would’ve fared much better if it were released today.
“Had ‘Ghost Rider’ been made in R-rated format, the way they had the guts to do with ‘Deadpool,’ and they did it again today, I’m fairly certain it would be enormously successful,” Cage told Yahoo! Entertainment. “Having said that, I still think the movies were a hit. People don’t look at the subsidiary outlets, like DVD and streaming and whatnot. When you look at what Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor did [on ‘Spirit of Vengeance’] for $50 million, and they got a $250 million return, you begin to see the genius of the sequel.”
Cage admitted “Ghost Rider” was never a guarantee for box office success given its subject matter. “The problem is, it’s very hard to take a family of children to a movie — and they made it a PG-13 movie — about a superhero who, oh, by the way, also happens to have sold his soul to Satan,” Cage said. “[It’s not the] most commercial concept or vehicle. But it certainly is the most interesting, and the most thought-provoking. I think if you look back on the movies today, they age well.”
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Comic book movies are the biggest genre in Hollywood, with Marvel’s “Black Panther” becoming only the third movie in history to reach $700 million at the U.S. box office earlier this year, and Cage said he saw it coming before he was even a teenager. The actor said when he was 10 or 11 years old he realized that comic book movies would “dominant the industry” once movie technology caught up with the stories being told in comics. The thought excited Cage, a longtime comic book fan.
“I always liked the monsters; I liked the complexity of the monsters,” Cage said. “I grew up reading ‘The Incredible Hulk’ and ‘Ghost Rider,’ because I could understand how these horrifying characters were also meant to be good. Ghost Rider took it to even another level, in that he was a superhero who had sold his soul to the devil. So it was philosophical; it was complex….it was almost like if Walt Disney had taken the story of Faust and made one of his animated features out of that story. Which is an important story.”
“Ghost Rider” didn’t bring Cage the comic book movie glory he envisioned, but he argues it might’ve had the films been released in a post-“Deadpool” world where R-rated studio tentpoles are more accepted. The actor is next seen on the big screen in the wild Sundance movie “Mandy,” in theaters September 14. Head over to Yahoo! to read more from Cage about his past roles.